This poem is dedicated to our many friends among the Sikh
community who earn their living on the long-distance lorry-routes of the
national highways. By their boundless energy, charm, loyalty and good humour,
the wheels of commerce are kept moving.
Upon the national highways, along the Grand Trunk Road
endless trail advancing come the Captains of the Road.
I see their
headlights flashing, their horns are blaring still.
Their thunder dies in
passing, but the echoes never will
From Bombay to Calcutta, from Lucknow to Kathmandu
convoyed with these gallant men, these noble hearts and true
the stars together and watched the setting sun;
We've had our testing
moments, but we've also had our fun..
Beware the coloured turbans, the beards with sex appeal,
and pretty light proclaim: 'A Sardar at the wheel!'
'Flee the road or
perish!', they more appropriately might say,
Than the commonly favoured
slogans: 'Horn Please! Thank You! OK!'
In the lowlands, on the hillside, over mountain pass and
The gaily painted chariots thunder on to Tunikel.
The dust bewails
their passing, every village bears the scars;
If they terrorise the bullock
carts, they petrify the cars..
About the highway tandurs, at morning, noon or night,
merry gossip babbles on, their hearts are ever light.
Tales of high
adventure, of men and fancy free:
Of love and laughter, song and dance, and
Arrested by a puncture or an over-balanced load,
the gallant steed in centre of the road!
Protectively, a ring of stones a
claim to highway keeps;
And behold, beneath the chassis, the bearded captain
Ahead repeated tragedy may catch the roving eye;
The price of
taking endless risks - to triumph, or to die.
The sheesham claims its
victim, yet quite incredibly,
Unscathed, the smiling charioteer sits brewing
fresh his tea!
Now codes of honour have their place, and you might rightly
That Captains of the Road don't fail a fellow in distress.
chain? No rope? No gasoline? when others helpless feel,
Off comes a purple
turban to be fitted to the wheel.
The grinning face, the sparkling eye, ambassadors of
Each one a living likeness of the Laughing Cavalier.
The core of
every mischief, the butt of every joke,
This little tale, with due respect,
we finally invoke.
Many years before his time a jaunty Sardar went
To face the
courts of Heaven - by misadventure sent.
'You have come, my friend, before
your time' the judge in session said.
The Sardar smiled, he stroked his
beard and sadly shook his head.
I have driven, sir, a million miles through every kind of
And once, just once, unwitting, to temptation's call I fell.
spoke so softly, gently, and coyly looked at me.
Then all the way to heaven
drove that pretty Sardarni!
The Captain was young and handsome, the judge was wise and
The Sardarni was acquitted - or that is what we're told!
No need for
counsel either, no need for argument
When Sardar faces Sardar, only the
hai, Sardarji, this simply will not do!
However coy Sardarni,
she may not sit with you.
You took a risk, my dear sir, of that there is no
Ensuing garbaration is what this trial's
hukum main manta hun,
But running on the
GT Road calls for some risk too!
pyar hai, quite absolutely true,
So kindly sochna Bhai Sahib, and see what you can do.
Mukadama mushkil hai,
shaid sach bhi ho,
But what to do
about it I simply do not know.
If there is a jurum,
some saza there must be,
But, within my
jurisdiction, handled differently
Mitigating circumstances have their place in law,
And more so
here than elsewhere, of that you may be sure:
Some consideration to courage
must be given
And the million miles you drove - all the way to Heaven.
Ah Ho! You are a Captain, a Captain of
Is karan your story so fully has
Let jury now consider:
And announce the verdict boldly: Sat Sri Akal.